Never underestimate the strength of “convenience” as a selling point. A new compilation of games from your favourite series has been released – that’s great! Oh, but what about when you move on to the new generation of hardware, or when more games from the series have been released? You’d better make sure that you pick up the next compilation as well. And so it goes on. I’m bringing this up because when I saw the amount of games listed as part of the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection, I felt relieved that I didn’t have to dust off my Xbox 360 to play 3rd Strike or the SFII series – similarly, I thought it would be nice not to be left digging out the PS2 every time I wanted to play the SF Alpha games on the Anthology. And sure, there’s nothing on this collection that you couldn’t emulate on PC, but even that would involve BIOS hunting, controller configuration, hooking the PC up to the TV and more bits and pieces that feel… well, inconvenient. Let’s take a closer look at those listed games – the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection has the original Street Fighter (itself something that I haven’t seen since maybe the Capcom Classics compilations on PSP), all major SFII games (with the exception of the Switch-exclusive Ultra SFII), all three SF Alpha games and all three SFIII games. It’s the most generous and convenient collection of Street Fighter games I’ve seen in a while, and you can play it on the same system you use for SFIV and SFV matches. Well, if you own a PS4 or PC.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection – curious lobbies
Unfortunately, some people may be disappointed if the best thing to say about the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is “well, all of the games are there”. Training modes are stuck in the past as you practice against a dummy – there are no trial modes or combo examples that help you learn. Online lobbies are a welcome feature, but searching is unusual – first, you toggle the games you wish to find lobbies for, and then it shows results based on those toggles. You’d think this would be useful if you’re never going to play Alpha 3, but instead the results ignore the games you’ve deselected. If you just want to play 3rd Strike, you’ll see results for purely 3S lobbies, but also lobbies for combinations of games that include 3S. I’m not too bothered because most of my online play will probably come from invites to private lobbies from friends, but it’s still peculiar.
There’s also a Museum segment with a series timeline and zoomable art, character details (including bio details and a neat sprite viewer), a “Making of SF” segment and – my favourite inclusion – a Music menu with playlists from all twelve games. There are even shuffle and repeat modes for when I want to listen to Jazzy NYC all day. The repeat function won’t go as far as making clean loops from the songs, but it’s a fun distraction.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection – memory lane
As for the games themselves? They mostly play how you remember – SF1 is still a nightmare to control, Alpha is all about daft custom combos and neglected ISMs, and 3rd Strike isn’t the labour of love that Iron Galaxy released last gen, but it’s still lots of fun. The online play seems smooth enough – I’ve had hardly any issues jumping around with my SFII Honda, getting guard crushed in Alpha or dashing through opponents with my Ibuki in 3S. After a win or loss there’s the option to rematch, but again, there aren’t the bells and whistles seen in 3rd Strike Online Edition such as visible ping or disconnect rates. Of greater concern is the weird nature of joining friends’ games – right now people are running into situations where both players will try to ready up for a match, but they can only toggle what looks like the ready status of the opponent, and even if both players try this it still looks like only one player is ready. Cue a lot of “why haven’t you hit the button” confusion until both players realise that the game can’t communicate the ready status correctly. Hopefully this gets fixed soon.
For the time being – especially in terms of local play, where a lot of my time will disappear – I’m satisfied with the Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection. Again – it’s hard to think of another Street Fighter collection that’s this generous in terms of games offered, and whilst more could have been done in terms of training/challenges, better lobby filters, more display options (there are screen size and filter toggles but they seem more like a token gesture) or even dipswitches (something I appreciated in 3S: Online Edition)… if you just want to play the games without swapping consoles or configuring emulators, it might be worth a look.
Street Fighter 30th Anniversary Collection is available now for PS4, Switch, Xbox One and PC. The official website can be found here.